The election result at Oldham and Royton came as good news to the Labour Party, leading them and much of the media to assume things are not as bad as feared, just some tidying up needing to be done. But Mr. Farage of UKIP has not taken the result in sporting fashion.
Given his pugnacious approach to matters, we might assume sour grapes but to those who like to see what the detail is, he could have a point. If he is even only half right then it will call into question again the postal votes rules and what is going on in many places.
Being ancient and playing the old buffer being one of my key roles I recall a few years back when not long after moving in a nice man from the Lib Dem's called to say he wanted to help and if I agreed he would take care of our postal votes relieving us of the worry.
Not having postal votes I told him that voting was a day out for us but if he wanted to help I would be most grateful if he would personally ensure that at the polling station the toilets were clean and well supplied with paper.
Then just to spread the happy word I rang the local Conservative and Labour Parties to ask if they had a similar service to the Lib Dem's. To my surprise the local paper not long after had a story about a major row over postal votes.
From reports at election times around the country it seems that fiddling the ballot has now become much more common. At the same time the major parties, who must be aware of it, have been reluctant to tackle electoral fraud which seems to be increasing in scale and expertise.
More of concern appears to be the lack of willingness on the part of The Electoral Commission to be robust and enquiring when there are suggestions of malpractice or cause for asking questions. It seems to have become more of a public relations outfit for our government rather than a disciplinary body.
Looking at the Oldham and Royton figures from long experience they could be explained by Labour having a strong and respected local man. If he was able to call up enough foot sloggers to get the vote out, then it could account for the result. But if these factors are not critical then the figures do not look right to me.
Even so, if the postal and false vote rackets were used, either this was on a large scale which would be very worrying, or if on a smaller scale it seems that Labour would have still won. The worst scenario is that in some wards there was fraud but it turns out not to have been needed.
What might one former Oldham MP, Winston Churchill above, have made of it? Short shrift is probably the answer. Should the consequences of this and any findings of fraud result in another bye-election, then Labour will have shot itself in the foot yet again.
The real lesson to learn is how to stop what looks to be increasing and endemic fraud in many urban areas.